British Airways Announces UnGrounded: First ‘Innovation Lab in the Sky’

  British Airways Announces UnGrounded: First ‘Innovation Lab in the Sky’

        Silicon Valley to Tackle Global Tech Challenge at 30,000 feet

Business Wire

SAN FRANCISCO -- March 21, 2013

Today, British Airways announced UnGrounded, an innovation lab in the sky
designed to connect industry leaders and creative minds for the purpose of
tackling a challenge that affects the next generation of global innovators. To
kick off this program, British Airways is partnering with the United Nations:
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Decide Now Act (DNA)

Taking place at 30,000 feet in the air aboard a private British Airways flight
from San Francisco to London, UnGrounded participants will address the
misalignment between where science and technology talent is emerging and where
opportunity exists for talent to realize their potential. They will be tasked
with designing a platform to inspire and connect this talent with civic and
commercial opportunities, to accelerate innovation in communities around the

“Our understanding is that the talent crunch is a real issue for companies and
organizations in major tech hubs around the world,” said Amir Dossal,
Chairman, Global Partnerships Forum, and Special Representative of the
Secretary-General of ITU, United Nations. "We need to give people the
opportunity to discover and be discovered, to grow skills, provide experience
and uncover new ideas globally.”

Upon landing in London the group will present their work to a like-minded
group of global thought leaders to decide how to put this into action. The
UnGrounded flight experience will be designed by innovation firm, IDEO.

The ‘passengers’ will be selected for their energy, ideas and experience.
Working with British Airways on this challenge and recruitment are leaders in
the tech community, including:

  *Todd Lutwak of Andreessen Horowitz
  *Leor Stern of Google
  *Celestine Johnson of Innovation Endeavors
  *Duncan Logan of RocketSpace
  *Gerald Brady of Silicon Valley Bank
  *Marguerite Gong Hancock of SPRIE, Stanford Graduate School of Business
  *Rhonda Abrams of The Planning Shop

This program is part of a larger initiative by British Airways to open the
door to collaboration with the start-up community in Silicon Valley. The
airline recently joined RocketSpace, an open innovation campus in the heart of
San Francisco, and will be actively engaging with the start-up community
through the RocketSpace Corporate Innovation Program.

“As one of the world’s leading airlines, British Airways deeply believes in
the power of face-to-face engagement to ignite new ideas, co-create and
accelerate innovation,” said Simon Talling-Smith, EVP of the Americas for
British Airways. “We are focused on how we can bring people together to affect
change within global society as well as within our own business.”

Key Facts: The UnGrounded Flight

  *The inaugural UnGrounded flight will travel from San Francisco to London
    in the summer of 2013.
  *British Airways has chosen to launch the UnGrounded flight from Silicon
    Valley, the global hub for technology and the de-facto model for how
    amazing ideas can be cultivated when people are together.
  *Participants on the UnGrounded flight will include some of Silicon
    Valley’s most prominent thinkers – from budding entrepreneurs to seasoned
    business leaders, VCs and scholars.
  *Upon touching down in London, flight participants will attend the DNA
    Summit, a meeting that connects the best minds in the world to progress
    talk into action.
  *During the DNA Summit, passengers will present their solution to the
    challenge to a group of like-minded, global innovators. The outcome will
    be received by the Secretary General of the ITU - the UN agency for
    information and communication technologies.

The challenge aligns with the UN Broadband Commission’s mandate to achieve
“digital inclusion for all.” The commission advocates that all people should
have access to affordable information and communication technologies for their
social and economic development.

About UnGrounded

Ungrounded brings together talent from diverse backgrounds to disrupt and
co-create to affect change within the global innovation community as well as
within the airline industry. The program was born and will grow in Silicon
Valley through its inaugural “Innovation Lab in the Sky” – 100 innovators at
30,000 feet coming together to ideate and create solutions against a global
socio-economic challenge. For more information visit

Follow us @BritishAirways and join the conversation #BAInnovate

Partner Quotes

"Innovation is a contact sport. With 100 innovators from Silicon Valley
together at 30,000 feet,anything is possible. Our research shows that
building talent networks is at the heart of creating high value and high
velocity innovation. I'm delighted to be part of this ambitious initiative
that has the potential to impactthenext generationofinnovators around the
globe."–Marguerite Gong Hancock, Associate DirectorofSPRIE, Stanford
Graduate School of Business

"It is exciting to be joining the wisdom and energy of two great technology
clusters, San Francisco and London. Both environments know well the first-hand
challenge of talent discovery as well as the opportunities created by
promoting additional technology clusters around the world.” – Duncan Logan,
Founder & CEO, RocketSpace

“The global reach of UnGrounded and the resulting opportunities for talented
innovators around the world makes this a program for others to follow
closely.” – Leor Stern, Head of Business Development, Niantic Labs, Google

“This inaugural UnGrounded flight is an exciting, new approach to innovation
and something we believe the Silicon Valley community will embrace. British
Airways is pushing the boundaries in finding solutions to global challenges
and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.” – Gerald Brady, Managing Director of
the Venture Capital Group, Silicon Valley Bank

“Magic happens when Silicon Valley’s brightest technologists and most spirited
creatives share in the festival of ideas. UnGrounded is an ultimate innovation
environment. It has the color and structure for interesting people, to solve
interesting problems. This is the creative kind of initiative that we
celebrate." – Celestine Johnson, Creative Director at Innovation Endeavors

"As a long-time British Airways advisor, I have seen first-hand that as a
company they are committed to innovation, entrepreneurship and the Bay Area
community. UnGrounded is strong proof of that commitment." – Rhonda Abrams,
nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling author, and successful
entrepreneur and founder of PlanningShop

"I am delighted that British Airways is reaching out to the creative community
to really think outside the box, in order to address global challenges. We
need to bring about Digital Inclusion for All. I am very glad that British
Airways is looking to innovation as the avenue to finding lasting solutions
and look forward to the outcome at the DNA Summit in June. I wish this dynamic
group much success.” – Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General, International
Telecommunication Union, United Nations


Colby Jones, 212-331-8423
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